Does God Get Angry? #295
Hello friends and happy weekend to you! As usual, we plan to have two shorter episodes today and tomorrow, and I say that we plan to do this, because that is always my thought for the weekend episodes, but it doesn’t always work out like that. Our Bible readings today include 1 Kings 20, Psalms 106 (our focus chapter), Daniel 2 and 1 Thessalonians 3.
Today we are focusing on the character of God. How can we know God? I have heard people say things frequently that sort of sounds like this, “My God would never…” and then they say something that they can’t conceive of God doing. Some of those statements are accurate – God would never sin, for instance, is a wholly accurate statement. However, most of the statements that I’ve heard follow the phrase, “My God would never…” are usually not biblically accurate at all – which brings us to a very good question. How can we know God at all? How can we answer today’s Bible question? I think the primary answer to both of those questions is by turning to God’s written revelation of Himself – the Word of God. All Scripture is God-breathed and accurate, and thus we know God by His Word and not by our opinions. I think if you ask the average person who has great respect and knowledge of the Bible if God gets angry, they would say ‘absolutely’ without blinking or hesitating…ask the average man on the streets, however, and you’d probably get a negative answer. As we have discussed before, many, many people view God as a kindly old grandfather who loves people no matter what. This portrayal and understanding of God is quite foreign to the way God is portrayed in the Bible, and the way that He portrays Himself. God is holy, and therefore He is angry at sin – the only righteous and just response to sin is righteous anger. Psalms 7:11 help us see this clearly:
“God is a just judge, And God is angry with the wicked every day” Psalms 7:11, NKJV
Let’s read our Psalms passage and see further that God not only gets angry, but that he can burn with anger.
I think that verses 40-44 of today’s Psalm give us one of the most concise and yet full pictures of the character of God in the Bible.
Therefore the Lord’s anger burned against his people,
and he abhorred his own inheritance.
41 He handed them over to the nations;
those who hated them ruled over them.
42 Their enemies oppressed them,
and they were subdued under their power.
43 He rescued them many times,
but they continued to rebel deliberately
and were beaten down by their iniquity. 44 When he heard their cry, he took note of their distress, 45 remembered his covenant with them, and relented according to the abundance of his faithful love.
God is also abounding in faithful love, and therefore He rescues His people over and over and over again – even when they have been unfaithful and even when He KNOWS they will be unfaithful again. God still rescues and relents because He has an ABUNDANCE of faithful love. Does God get angry? Yes, says the Word of God – no question about it. Here’s the more important question: Does God get angry like WE get angry? And the answer to that question is – NO! Here’s our friends from Gotquestions.org to help us understand:
However, we must not equate God’s anger with our own human experiences of that emotion. We must look again to the Bible. Ephesians 4:26–27 tells us it is possible to experience anger but not sin. As God cannot sin, we know that His anger is righteous, unlike the common experience of anger in ourselves. As James 1:20 says, “Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
The context of the verses of God getting angry reveals why He gets angry. God gets angry when there is a violation of His character. God is righteous, just, and holy, and none of these attributes can be compromised (Exodus 20:4–6; Isaiah 42:8). God was angry with the nation of Israel and with Israel’s kings every time they turned away from obeying Him (e.g., 1 Kings 11:9–10; 2 Kings 17:18). The wicked practices of the nations in Canaan, such as child sacrifice and sexual perversion, aroused God’s anger to the point He commanded Israel to completely destroy them—every man, woman, child, and animal—to remove wickedness from the land (Deuteronomy 7:1–6). Just as a parent becomes angry at anything that would hurt his children, so God’s anger is directed at that which would harm His people and their relationship with Him. “‘As surely as I live,’ declares the Sovereign LORD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live’” (Ezekiel 33:11).
In the New Testament, Jesus got angry with the religious teachers and leaders of that day for using religion for their own gain and keeping people in bondage (John 2:13–16; Mark 3:4–5). Romans 1:18 tells us God’s anger, or wrath, comes against “the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” So God gets angry at the wickedness in people, and He opposes that wickedness in an effort to turn them from evil, that they may find true life and freedom in Him. Even in His anger, God’s motivation is love for people; to restore the relationship that sin destroyed.
While God must bring justice and retribution for sin, those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior are no longer under God’s wrath for sin. Why? Because Jesus experienced the full measure of the wrath of God on the cross so that we wouldn’t have to. This is what is meant by Jesus’ death being a “propitiation,” or satisfaction. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1–4).